Participation in the arts prepares students for life At a time when many schools are facing severe budget reductions, I would like to make an argument for the preservation of the fine and performing arts in every school’s curriculum. Each year, I watch our halls fill with the fine arts of our students and am amazed with their bold, innovative, and risky interpretations of class assignments. The media vary from paint, to ceramics, to glass, to sculpture using a wide array of materials. The results demand attention and time to ponder what the young artists have created. I am always amazed that the risks students take putting their work out for all to see are met with appreciative and interested comments from peers and fellow schoolmates. Creating community The same holds true for the performing arts. Our school musical, “Seussical Jr.,” brought together a cast and crew of 50 Middle and Upper School students and forged them into a tight, supportive and creative community. Such are the performing arts. We can try to capture the moment with our digital cameras and we can seal a small part of the evening in the amber of still or moving images, but the real value will live in the hearts and minds of those 50 students and a creative team of faculty members. Students saw their hard work come together in an ensemble performance that used the talents of each student. The students begin to realize this very special relationship of creative interdependence as the show comes together. All of a sudden, the song becomes part of a scene that is part of an act that, in turn, adds meaning to the story. The students have worked hard to master these skills, but it still took courage to put themselves out there in front of peers, schoolmates, faculty, parents, and strangers. Hard work and courage Is this so different from what many adults have to do each day as they work in collaborative teams, make presentations to clients, supervisors, or board members, or construct proposals for new ventures? Students in the arts understand that talent can take you to one level, but it takes hard work, dedication and courage to get to levels of high achievement. They quickly learn that the diva who rarely shows up on time brings little to the final performance, yet those who work on the ensemble bring the life, energy, and meaning to a play. Real achievement is based on hours of work, care for those you work with, and attention to the meaning of the project. In so many ways, the fantasy of Seussical is training for the “real world” our students will face in a few years. My plea is for the fine and performing arts to always be an important part of every school curriculum. The experience is not quite the same as being on a team, nor is it the same as class work. Intellig ent risk taking, self-knowledge, courage, tenacity, collaboration and good humor are the products of the arts, and our students, our communities, our nation and the world need leaders who can bring these attributes to the weightier issues that lie beyond the school gates.
We can try to capture the moment with our digital cameras and we can seal a small part of the evening in the amber of still or moving images, but the real value of Seussical will live in the hearts and minds of those 50 students and a creative team of faculty members.” Jim Burger, head of school at the Tuxedo Park School.